Facing This Age of Violence With Confidence
“The Sovereign Lord Jehovah himself has spoken! Who will not prophesy?”—AMOS 3:8.
1. (a) With respect to Jehovah’s name, what grand privilege do we have? (b) How did Jesus and Paul magnify Jehovah and his name?
“THE Sovereign Lord Jehovah”—how beautifully do those words describe the Supreme Ruler of the universe! Sectarian objections to the contrary, it is a grand privilege to call upon Jehovah by name, to have an intimate relationship with Jehovah and to proclaim Jehovah’s name and purposes to others. His Son, Jesus, while on earth declared: “Jehovah’s spirit is upon me, . . . to declare good news to the poor.” In prayer to Jehovah, he said of his disciples: “I have made your name known to them and will make it known.” And the apostle Paul, in quoting the ancient Hebrew prophets, said: “Everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will be saved.”—Luke 4:18; John 17:26; Romans 10:13; Joel 2:32.
2. (a) In what way did Amos extol Jehovah? (b) In harmony with the meaning of Amos’ name, what assignment did he receive?
2 Amos was one of those ancient prophets. He extolled the name of Jehovah, the expression “the Sovereign Lord Jehovah” appearing 21 times in his Bible book. The name Amos means “Carrying a Load.” Truly, he carried a heavy load of responsibility, as do loyal witnesses of Jehovah today. Amos was a sheep raiser and an orchardist, and it appears that he had no formal schooling for his prophetic work. Yet he was evidently well acquainted with God’s Word, and Jehovah’s spirit was upon him to accomplish his difficult assignment. What was that? It was to leave his homeland in Judah and to go as a foreign missionary to the renegade ten-tribe kingdom of Israel to the north. There, in Israel, with its capital at Samaria, he was to proclaim a most unpopular message of doom.
3. What timely “confidential matter” was revealed through Amos?
3 Did Amos balk at this assignment? Not at all! Those were times of violence, but the people needed to be mindful of the approach of an even more “calamitous day.” Their lives were centered on eating and drinking. Sprawled on their ivory couches and divans of luxury, they gave no thought to Jehovah and his true worship. (Amos 6:3-6) Jehovah determined to punish them, but first they must receive a prophetic warning. In line with this, Jehovah himself declared: “The Sovereign Lord Jehovah will not do a thing unless he has revealed his confidential matter to his servants the prophets.”—Amos 3:7.
4. (a) Why has ancient prophecy been preserved? (b) Through what channel is its meaning now made known?
4 Does this ancient prophecy have meaning for us today? Yes, it has a powerful message for us! The inspired Word of God was compiled under divine direction, and it has been preserved down to “the time of the end” for the benefit of God’s people “upon whom the ends of the systems of things have arrived.” Its prophetic meaning is made known to us through “the faithful and discreet slave,” that group of anointed Christians whom the Master, Jesus Christ, is using now to provide spiritual “food at the proper time” for all of God’s people.”—Daniel 12:4; 1 Corinthians 10:11; Matthew 24:45-47.
5. How should we respond to Jehovah’s utterance at Amos 3:8?
5 Do we regard this “confidential matter” of Amos’ prophecy as something of secondary importance that can be attended to in our spare time, as it were? Well, if we were alone in the open veld, and suddenly the stillness was shattered by the roar of a lion, how would we react? In that life-or-death situation, would we not spring into action? We would not delay! So should we not make a like response to Jehovah’s prophetic utterances? Jehovah himself declares: “There is a lion that has roared! Who will not be afraid? The Sovereign Lord Jehovah himself has spoken! Who will not prophesy?” (Amos 3:8) It is vital, then, that we make known the prophecy and its meaning to others. But how?
6. In what ways does Christendom resemble ancient Samaria?
6 Jehovah’s command to Amos was: “Go, prophesy to my people Israel.” (Amos 7:15) That apostate kingdom of Israel has its parallel today in Christendom, which is materialistic in its outlook, dependent on violence or the threat of violence for its survival, and antagonistic to the Sovereign Lord Jehovah, hating his name. As for the title “Christian,” Christendom wears this only as a label, for she stands in opposition to Christ’s incoming Kingdom of righteousness. Jesus himself describes those of Christendom’s religions as “workers of lawlessness.”—Matthew 7:21-23.
7, 8. (a) How has Christendom’s doom been ‘published’ progressively over the years? (b) What “liberty” has been proclaimed for ‘captives,’ and with what result?
7 Since the Kingdom’s establishment in the heavens in 1914, the modern-day Amos class, Jehovah’s Witnesses, have proclaimed Jehovah’s day of vengeance throughout Christendom. A thorough warning was sounded in the lands of Christendom from 1919 to 1939 in particular, and this continues down to the present day. For Jehovah’s Witnesses, the years of World War II, 1939-45, were a time of persecution, but also a time for reorganization. In 1943 the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead began to train missionaries for foreign fields, and by the end of World War II these were being sent out into country after country to expand the Kingdom witness. The work in the realm of Christendom was thus enlarged, notably in Italy, Portugal, Spain and the vast territory of Latin America.
8 “Go, prophesy,” was the call! Devoted families moved out from Canada, the United States, the British Isles, Europe and Australasia to join the missionaries in new territories where the need was great. With confidence they published what ‘the Sovereign Lord Jehovah himself had spoken.’ Jehovah’s spirit has been upon his witnesses to proclaim, on a global scale, God’s “day of vengeance” on Christendom, and also “liberty to those taken captive” by false religion. (Isaiah 61:1, 2; Zechariah 4:6) Thus, in the space of 40 years, there resulted an astounding increase in the monthly average of Witnesses publishing the Kingdom: from 109,794 in 1943 to 2,501,722 in 1983.
A Global Pattern
9, 10. (a) What was the extent of the proclamation in Amos’ day, and what parallels this today? (b) As foreshadowed by Amos’ prophecy, how have so-called pagans come to regard Christendom?
9 This follows the pattern of Amos’ day, when the proclamation of doom was to be sounded also in Ashdod—pagan center of worship in nearby Philistia—and as far distant as Egypt. For the Sovereign Lord Jehovah had spoken, saying: “Publish it on the dwelling towers in Ashdod and on the dwelling towers in the land of Egypt, and say: ‘Be gathered together against the mountains of Samaria, and see the many disorders in the midst of her and cases of defrauding inside her. And they have not known how to do what is straightforward,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘those who are storing up violence and despoiling in their dwelling towers.’”—Amos 3:9, 10.
10 Likewise, the modern-day declaration of Jehovah’s vengeance to be executed on Christendom has spread far beyond its realm—through Africa, the islands of the sea and many parts of the Orient. As Egypt is used in the Bible as a symbol of the entire wicked world alienated from God, so the message of Christendom’s doom has been proclaimed on a global scale. (Compare Isaiah 19:19, 20.) Many of the so-called pagan nations have been well aware of the ‘disorders, defrauding, crookedness, violence and despoiling’ in Christendom. Over the centuries they have observed Christendom’s missionaries sharing in ideological wars and revolutions and acting as a front for international commerce in guns and narcotics. When a Watch Tower missionary starts to talk to a Buddhist, he is often met with the objection: ‘But look at the moral state of Christians; we Buddhists have far better morals, so why should we change?’ The missionary has to make it plain that the religion of Christendom is far different from the Christianity of the Bible. Only then does he start to find a hearing ear.
11. The corruption in Samaria corresponds with what today?
11 As in ancient Samaria, so in Christendom, politicians and officials, great and small, “have not known how to do what is straightforward.” Further, in most so-called Christian lands, violence and lawlessness stalk the streets. (Matthew 24:3, 12) This is in striking contrast to more peaceful conditions in many “non-Christian” lands.
12. How has Christendom been “storing up violence and despoiling”?
12 “Violence and despoiling” is also planned on a shocking scale in the international field. It is not enough that nations of Christendom were the instigators of the two world wars, because of which they carry bloodguilt with regard to the slaughter of some 69,000,000 humans. Now Christendom is very much a party to the struggle between the two superpowers, “the king of the south” and “the king of the north,” with the result that its nations go along with the deployment of murderous nuclear weapons throughout their territories.
13 On a visit to Japan, the chief spokesman for “the king of the south” declared: “The only value in possessing nuclear weapons is to make sure they can’t be used—ever.” Then why do they have them at all? It is because Satan, the god of this world, has the nations trapped in a dilemma from which they cannot escape. In response to “pushing” by “the king of the south,” the chief spokesman of “the king of the north” announced the targeting of medium-range nuclear missiles on the U.S. mainland by “stationing them in the ocean and the seas.” All of this fulfills Jesus’ prophecy concerning “anguish of nations, not knowing the way out because of the roaring of the sea and its agitation.”—Daniel 11:40; Luke 21:25; Revelation 12:9, 12.
14. In what ways does this situation and its outcome remind us of happenings in Noah’s day?
14 Not since the days of Noah has mankind faced such despoiling, together with the threat of greater violence. The historical record of Noah’s time reads: “Jehovah saw that the badness of man was abundant in the earth and every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only bad all the time. . . . And the earth came to be ruined in the sight of the true God and the earth became filled with violence.” Because of that badness and violence, Jehovah brought the wicked to ruin by means of the Deluge. Again, today, he purposes “to bring to ruin those ruining the earth.”—Genesis 6:5-13; Revelation 11:18; Luke 17:26, 27.
Plundering of Christendom
15. How did Jehovah cause “an adversary” to execute judgment on Samaria?
15 What will be the finale of the confrontation between the world’s superpowers? Jehovah has something to say about it, as we read at Amos 3:11: “Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said, ‘There is an adversary even round about the land, and he will certainly bring your strength down from you, and your dwelling towers will actually be plundered.’” Who is this “adversary”? Back in Amos’ day the “adversary” was the Assyrian World Power. Assyria’s mighty army was maneuvered by Jehovah and used by him as a symbolic “rod” to execute judgment on apostate Samaria, as described at Isaiah 10:5, 6: “Aha, the Assyrian, the rod for my anger, and the stick that is in their hand for my denunciation! Against an apostate nation I shall send him, and against the people of my fury I shall issue a command to him, to take much spoil and to take much plunder and to make it a trampling place like the clay of the streets.”
16. (a) How does Revelation 17 describe a corresponding confrontation today? (b) What developments indicate that Christendom’s doom is near?
16 In like fashion, Jehovah will bring a heavily armed modern-day Assyrian as his “rod” and “ax” to execute apostate Christendom. Indeed, the entire world empire of false religion, Babylon the Great, will at that one time be devastated by vicious “horns”—militarized political powers that are even now member nations of the UN. (Isaiah 10:15; Revelation 17:5, 16, 17) The rumblings of that approaching confrontation are to be heard often in the news of the day. For example, U.S.News & World Report recently had this to say: “It is not only in Poland that Catholicism and Communism seem to be heading toward confrontation. Across Eastern Europe, relations between the church and Communist regimes have grown increasingly abrasive since Polish-born John Paul II became Pope in 1978. A new militancy is evident among Roman Catholic bishops in the Soviet bloc. . . . The Pope’s staunch championing of the Catholic cause has added to the atmosphere of confrontation. . . . Communist governments make no secret of their suspicions of the Pope.”
17. What does the book of Amos, as well as other prophecies, say about the plundering of false religion?
17 Thus it will happen just as Jehovah states at Amos 3:15: “‘And the houses of ivory will have to perish, and many houses will have to come to their finish,’ is the utterance of Jehovah.” The wealth and materialism of Christendom will be devastated, along with that of the entire realm of false religion.—Ezekiel 7:19; Revelation 18:15-17.
18. (a) What proud action will the “Assyrian” next take? (b) What will this precipitate, and with what result to Jehovah’s people?
18 However, will this mean immediate release for Jehovah’s loyal servants—from the reproaches, the persecutions, the oppressions that Satan’s world heaps upon them? Not yet! For the politically minded “Assyrian”—“the rod” and “the ax” that Jehovah uses in executing judgment on apostate Christendom—will proudly magnify himself against Jehovah by turning upon his faithful witnesses here on earth. But in vain! (Isaiah 10:15-19) As John the apostle saw it in vision, “the kings of the earth,” the political powers of the UN ‘wild beast,’ will gather to wage war against God’s enthroned “King of kings and Lord of lords.” That will be the signal for Har–Magedon, “the war of the great day of God the Almighty.” It will bring annihilation to all of Satan’s forces on earth and salvation to “everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah.”—Revelation 16:14, 16; 19:11, 16, 19-21; Romans 10:13.
19. Amos’ example and the fulfillment of his prophecy against Samaria should instill what confidence in us?
19 How, then, do you face this age of violence? Surely with firm confidence that Jehovah will vindicate his prophetic Word! And with resoluteness like that of Amos, who preached an unpopular message of doom to an apostate people! But how can you yourself survive into and enjoy the grand New Order that the Sovereign Lord Jehovah is preparing for those who love him? The next article will answer that question.
Questions in Review:
□ How was Amos a fine example to us in facing violent times?
□ What “confidential matter” are we now privileged to “publish”?
□ In what ways does ancient Samaria foreshadow Christendom?
□ How will this age of violence end, and what indicates that this is near?
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The Sovereign Lord Jehovah sent sheepherder Amos to publish an unpopular message
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For Babylon the Great, ‘Writing on the Wall’